I have been doing a lot of reading lately. It feels like I’m enjoying it more – reading quicker and getting drawn into stories instantly. I think this is largely because I’ve been reading a wider variety of genres, such as romance and nonfiction, and listening to audiobooks.
Despite this (or maybe because of this?), I have found I don’t have a lot of time somehow to be writing blog posts! It’s a shame because I always enjoy it! But all of this preamble aside, that is why I decided to share some quotes that have really resonated with me from books I have read recently.
I wouldn’t say I have ‘favourite’ quotes. There are so many, how would you choose?! I think almost any writer can create a turn of phrase that just hits different, or evoke a particular feeling that sticks with you, or make you think about an idea in a way you hadn’t considered before. Therefore, rather than any list of particularly-liked quotes, I’m going to share ones that left an impression.
“Nothing feels like a premature achievement, it’s just what we’re meant to be doing.”
Everything I Know About Love – Dolly Alderton
I won’t talk too much about this book here, because I hope to post a mini review soon, but I felt this quote. It is from the final section of this nonfiction book, where the writer deals with turning thirty and all of the societal milestones she suddenly has to hit.
Although I’m not turning thirty soon, this idea of well it’s just what you’re supposed to do succinctly puts into words the problems I think my generation has with adulting, and the way it goes from a huge task to boring, background, expected. A weird time to be thinking of growing, too, with the current situation making everything feel so stagnant.
“You had rather take evil upon credit than good … Are no probabilities to be accepted, merely because they are not certainties?”
Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
This quote is said to Elinor by her mother, Mrs Dashwood. Elinor is a character who is the ‘sense’ of the title. She is rational, she thinks things through, she is often a sceptic in regards to people’s supposed moral actions (and often right about them, too). But the more you read, the more you learn that she does feel deeply and perhaps she would like to be insensible about something now and again – but she can’t. She is sensible.
I just think this quote effectively illustrates two different modes of approaching the world, the irony when considering the harm taking good ‘upon credit’ rather than evil does, and also people’s hidden depths.
“In a way, the whole black race was loyal to Roy, a man just down from the cross.”
An American Marriage – Tayari Jones
I was unable to include this quote in my review of this book, but man! The imagery! This quote is from the POV of Roy’s ex-wife, Celestial, when she is considering how her father, who has always championed her, does not like her decision to divorce Roy while he is in prison and marry another man.
There are so many conflicting loyalties present here. To Roy, for example, who surely deserves something after being wrongfully imprisoned for so long; to ‘the whole black race,’ a loyalty against the disproportionate rates of incarceration black people face. But what about the loyalties to Celestial’s own womanhood? She is not an object. Or is she? Then, of course, there’s the Biblical imagery of the cross, but it also reminds me very much of James Baldwin’s ‘Down at the Cross,’ an essay about many things, including morality and authority and reality. It’s included in The Fire Next Time – a must read.
“Sometimes I catch the acrid scent of tannery smoke, or notice the shimmer of the air in the Cold Front, and I can’t help feeling this tawdry nostalgia. / But actual people are more complicated. After so much exposure to Argelan culture, I can’t look at random strangers here in Xiosphant without trying to guess which compartment their families traveled in, and how that lines up with their social class here.”
The City in the Middle of the Night – Charlie Jane Anders
I’ve reviewed this book here, it’s a science fiction story about humanity trying to create peaceful habitation and community on a planet called January, after escaping from a dying Earth. The interplay of the story told by Sophie, one of the narrators, is between the cities of Xiosphant and Argelan. The first is strictly ordered with rules, job divisions and class. The second is a lawless free-for-all. This quote is taken from after Sophie has returned to Xiosphant, her home city, after visiting Argelan.
What strikes me most about this quote is its recognition of the ease of nostalgia. It’s described as “tawdry.” It is not worth anything – it is cold air and pungent smoke. But she still feels it! Sophie almost wants to lose herself in nostalgia, but then she catches herself and takes a look at the people around her with new eyes. I think it is a subtle way of pointing out the problems we have in our society, and the way we have to open our eyes and understand them rather than living in something comfortable. Something that’s cheap.
“Just as I remember we are all one people, I see Mrs Kavinsky coming towards me.”
Weather – Jenny Offill
This is a book shortlisted for this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, and you will understand why if you read it. It is full of relevant issues – populism’s rise in politics, oversharing, the inescapability of podcasts!, and, of course, the changing weather. It is narrated by one woman, Lizzie, and this quote follows from a line of positive thinking. She is cultivating a community spirit, a togetherness, a unity. And then her neighbour approaches her.
Mrs Kavinsky in the story talks a lot and expresses views our narrator doesn’t agree with. It’s a short line that doesn’t need to say anything if you want, but what I think it says, is that despite everything, some people will simply never be a people with you. Sometimes a political divide isn’t only a political divide. It’s a difficult idea, and hard to accept when confronted with actual people rather than ideas, but there nonetheless.
OK! That’s it! Enough analysis!
I enjoyed writing this a lot. Quotes are a fab way to revisit a book you read, and sometimes they can succinctly capture the whole theme of the story in just one or two lines. It is nice to have a space here to delve deeper into single sentences, their context and meaning and metaphor, rather than just brushing the surface of it in a review.
Hopefully I’ll continue to write these in the future – I’m not running low on book quotes after all!
What do you think of these quotes and what they mean? Are there any lines you’ve particularly enjoyed recently?